New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) urged President Obama to hold off on efforts to normalize relations with Cuba until the Castro regime turns over Assata Shakur, who fled to the island nation after escaping prison in the United States.
Shakur, a former member of the Black Liberation Army, was convicted of her role in a 1973 shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike in which New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster was killed and another trooper was badly injured. She escaped a New Jersey prison in 1979 and was granted asylum by Fidel Castro in 1984.
In a letter sent to the White House last week, Christie said Cuba’s provision of safe harbor “is an affront to every resident of our state, our country, and in particular, the men and women of the New Jersey State Police.”
“I urge you to demand the immediate return of Chesimard before any further consideration of restoration of diplomatic relations with the Cuban government,” Christie said, using Shakur’s married name.
Shakur last year became the first woman placed on the FBI’s “Most Wanted Terrorist” list. The Justice Department has offered a reward of up to $1 million for he capture and return.
The president announced last week he is taking sweeping new steps to normalize relations with Cuba, including the easing of travel and trade restrictions and a bid to reopen an embassy in Havana.
Christie said he profoundly disagreed with the president’s move, but it was “an opportunity for Cuba and its government to show the American people it is serious about change” by turning over Shakur.